Best Gym Bags Reviewed & Rated for Quality
We discuss the importance of quality gym gear here, but just as important can be what you use to carry that gear around. If you’re properly outfitted to go workout, you probably have a lot of different pieces that you need to bring with you. But you can’t organize your entire day around working out; you might need to bring your gear with you to work, to school, or wherever else you need to get to.
- Everest Wet Pocket
- Side Pocket for Shoes or Wet Gear
- Adidas Team Speed
- One Interior Zip Pocket
- Mier Backpack Duffel
- Water Resistant Bottom
You need a gym bag that is efficient, that can carry everything that you need to bring around with you, but that is also professional and stylish. With hundreds of different bags on the market, each advertising themselves as the best for the avid gym goer, it can be tough to determine which ones are actually high quality, and which ones are simply advertised as such. That’s why we’ve compiled this list, a look at the very best gym bags that you can buy. Obviously, with something as subjective as a personal accessory, no one gym bag can be established as the definitive best product. Whatever your personal needs and preferences are, you should be able to find something on this list that will satisfy your needs and enhance your gym experience.
10 Best Gym Bags
1. Everest Wet Pocket
It’s in the name, so it must be one of the most important aspects. The wet pocket allows you to store anything that might be wet away from the rest of your things.
Many bags boast of being durable, but few back it up quite as much as the Everest Wet Pocket. It’s not only resistant to tearing, scuffing, and other types of physical damage, it’s even mildew resistant to deal with the wet materials that you keep inside it.
Cost and Value
Not only is the Everest Wet Pocket Gym Bag the top pick for gym bags, but it’s also one of the very least expensive that you can buy. It’s pretty much impossible to beat that value.
Special wet pocket
Resistance to almost any kind of damage
Numerous exterior pockets and several interior compartments
Exterior pockets can encroach on interior space
2. Adidas Team Speed
One of the larger bags you can get that’s still easy to carry around, the Team Speed will be able to fit all of your gear for sure, along with several more pockets along the exterior.
Anything that can promote team unity will work to strengthen your bonds. The wide range of color choice combined with the empty space perfect for emblazoning a logo make the Team Speed perfect if you want your team to have flashy, matching bags.
Cost and Value
The Adidas Team Speed bags are roughly average in terms of gym bag prices, maybe a touch on the more expensive side, but still very manageable for you and your team members to acquire.
Huge main compartment
High amount of customization possible
Durable and waterproof hard bottom
Sturdy and won’t bend
Breathable mesh fabric
Uncomfortable shoulder strap
Can be too bulky for lockers
3. Mier Backpack Duffel
One of the most convenient things about the Mier Backpack Duffel is how convertible it is. You can carry it just like a regular gym bag, or, if you’re on the subway or riding a bike, you can sling it over your shoulders and wear it like a backpack.
The whole tube in the middle is one open, empty space that can fit a solid amount of gym gear, but it also has compartments on the top and bottom of the tube, for sweaty clothes or anything else that may need to be stored separately.
Cost and Value
The Mier Duffel Backpack costs less than every other entry on this list. It doesn’t provide much in terms of extra value, but for a solid, affordable gym bag, you can’t do much better.
Very reasonably priced
Large central compartment
Perfect for doubling as a plane carry-on
Some issues with working the straps right with a stuffed bag
Some customers had a problem with the zipper
4. Carhartt Legacy
In order to be competitive at all, a gear bag needs to stand up to some wear and tear, but nothing is in the same league as the Carhartt Legacy Gear Bag in terms of durability.
Lots of Room
You will never run out of room packing your gym stuff into the Legacy Gear Bag; it’s one of the largest gym bags you can get with the most spacious main compartment.
Cost and Value
The Carhartt Legacy Gear Bag is one of the more expensive items on this list for sure, but the trade-off is, you’ll have it forever. Anyone familiar with the Boot Theory of Economics can tell you how much value there is in that.
Toughest bag ever
Classic, timeless style, available in black or workman’s brown
High durability zipper for no snags
Lots of interior space
A bit bulky and heavy
Could use more interior and exterior pockets
5. Adidas Squad III
The Adidas Squad III boasts a number of different compartments; not just random pockets, but sections with a purpose. A ventilated compartment on the end for shoes, mesh pockets on the exterior, more on the interior, and a special mesh pocket for your water bottle, everything has it’s place in the Squad III.
Comfortable and Adjustable Shoulder Strap
One of the more awkward aspects of gym bags is just carrying them around; with the Squad III, the shoulder strap is adjustable, making it easy to carry around.
Cost and Value
Mid-range as prices go, the Adidas Squad III will definitely provide the value you’re looking for if organization is a priority. If not, you might be able to find an equally effective bag for less.
Separate shoe compartment
Durable polyester composition
Water bottle pocket
Comfortable shoulder strap
Better for smaller people
Doesn’t have a stiff bottom
6. UA Storm Undeniable II
It’s undeniable that you could really fit just about whatever you need to inside the Storm Undeniable II. Room for clothes, gear, footballs, soccer balls, anything else that you might need to bring with you.
A good choice for traveling, the Undeniable is able to protect whatever you keep inside of it from the elements outside.
Cost and Value
One of the most expensive gym bags on this list, it’s really the type of thing that you want to get if you really need the capacity. If you’re going to fill the bag up, you’ll get your value out of it; if you only need to pack a change of clothes, you might want to downgrade.
Large main compartment
Comfortable, padded arm strap
Pockets, big and little
Not the best zippers
Not very durable comparatively
7. Herschel Novel Duffel
Simple, straightforward, but beautiful and elegant, is the prevailing style of the modern day, and the Herschel Novel Duffel Bag reflects that elegant simplicity in an eye-catching and intriguing way.
If something looks high quality but falls apart immediately, you probably bought it from a counterfeiter on the sidewalk. There’s no point in having something that looks high quality if it’s a lie. Fortunately, Herschel delivers, carefully crafting the Novel Duffel Bag of the finest materials that will stand the test of time.
Cost and Value
For obvious reasons, the Herschel Novel Duffel Bag is the most expensive bag we’ve reviewed. Whether the bag is worth it is up to you, as aesthetic is a subjective and, ultimately, personal metric.
Available in a wide variety of classy colors
Durable hemp material
Waterproof two-way zipper
Strap connectors squeak loudly
Might be too small for some
8. Adidas Defender II
Gym bags are meant to be chucked into the backs of trunks and dropped onto locker room floors while carrying a bunch of heavy and abrasive stuff. The Defender II is designed with that in mind, meant to take a beating and last.
With the aforementioned three different sizes, in addition to dozens of color choices, you are guaranteed to find a gym bag that fits your needs and sensibilities.
Cost and Value
Not only is it customizable and highly functional, the Adidas Defender II is also relatively inexpensive, making it a high value target for anyone who wants a simple and reliable gym bag.
Extremely durable with a lifetime warranty
Large central compartment
Both ends are large, zippered pockets
Not much reinforcement
Another squeaker at the straps
9. 5.11 Tactical NBT Mike Duffel
On the inside, you’ll find secure, hard pockets, and straps along the walls, in order to allow you to properly stash all of your gun gear, but with a main compartment still large enough to manage your regular gym gear.
Durable Nylon Construction
If you’re using a bag to carry firearms, you better be sure that bag is sturdy, and the Tactical NBT is extremely sturdy and well-built.
Cost and Value
While the 5.11 Tactical NBT Mike Duffle Bag is one of the most expensive bags out there, the value is all in how badly you need it. If you need the ability to secure weaponry or, really, anything that needs to be secured, then you’ll get value out of it; otherwise, if you’re just putting clothes in it, you’ve overpaid.
Great internal organization system
Stands up to abuse
Large main compartment for regular gear
Great aesthetic design
Useful for air travel, too
Doesn’t have a reinforced bottom
Could use a bit more depth
10. North Face Apex
With the lack of features inside comes the ability to give you tons of room to fit whatever you want. When out in the wilderness, being prepared is everything, and that can mean having access to as much stuff as possible.
One complaint many people have about gym bags is that the bottom sags; no complaints here. The underbelly of the Apex is both sturdy and effective, properly holding all your stuff together.
Cost and Value
The North Face Apex Duffel Bag is pretty expensive, but you want something designed for the outdoors if that’s where you’re heading. Again, the value is in how you use it. If your longest trek is from your apartment to the gym, then you won’t get much value out of it.
Long-lasting and durable
Able to protect your gear from the elements effectively
Could use more pockets
Strap can get twisted easily
You know that having the right gear is vital to effectively working out but having the right bag to carry that gear is also very important. Creating and maintaining a strong workout routine requires one thing: efficiency. The reason for this is simple; if you are disinclined to work out, then you are likely to, whether you realize it or no, jump on any obstacle you can as a reason not to work out today. It might be that you can’t find your shoes, or just that navigating the subway right now would be annoying with gym gear. Having a strong organizational system and a way to transport your gear will reduce one more obstacle, making it that much easier to stick to your workout regime. And if you are already a dedicated exerciser who doesn’t have a gym bag, you must deal with the inconvenience of hauling your stuff back and forth every time you have to work out. Make your own life easier and get yourself an effective and high-quality gym bag today.
Criteria Used in Choosing the Best Gym Bags
Clearly, the capacity to actually carry stuff is the most important quality that a gym bag can possess. Ultimately, the primary aspect of a gym bag is actually the thing that isn’t there: the empty space in the middle where your stuff can go. For the most part, the larger the gym bag, the better, as it’s capable of toting around more and more the bigger it gets. However, not everyone’s workout or athletics require a large amount of gear and having a big bag with a bunch of empty space is not only a waste of money and material, it can also be very bulky and cumbersome. The ideal size of a gym bag is entirely contingent on the athlete who is acquiring it. A busy professional who needs room for a pair of sneakers and a change of gym clothes to work out before work is going to have extremely different size considerations than a hockey player on his way to a game. Figure out exactly what you’re going to need to be carrying around at your most burdened and judge the size of the bag that you’re getting based off of that.
Design – Functionality
If the only thing you were getting a gym bag for was to chuck all your stuff into it, then you could save a lot of money by just getting a reusable grocery bag and leaving it at that. Of course, that’s not an ideal circumstance; anyone who’s ever dumped out an entire bag and sifted through the junk trying to find their keys can tell you that. The best gym bags will have all sorts of features and functions that will allow you to better organize your stuff, keep what needs to be kept separate, and protect your gear while you’re in transit. Some bags have far more design efficiency than you really need, though, so judge your design in the same manner as your size, figuring out what it is you’ll be likely to be carrying around. For every pocket or compartment on a gym bag, identify what you’ll be keeping in there. That busy professional probably doesn’t need a tactical gear bag with storage space for firearms, but they might want a few extra compartments to keep work clothes clean and separate from gym clothes. The functional aspect of the design is all about personal lifestyle and preference.
Design – Style
The design in terms of style is probably the most subjective aspect of gym bags, but it’s still something that can be moderately easily judged. As a professor of mine once said, it might be hard to tell if something’s good, it’s very easy to tell if something’s bad. Ugly bags are just that, ugly. Some of them have functional aspects that make it worth it, but if you care about your appearance, you don’t want to be carrying around an ugly bag. An attractive one, however, is all in the eye of the beholder. You might prefer the athletic look of the Team Speed, the sleek, urban look of the Novel, or the timeless rugged workman’s style of the Legacy. We’ve done our best to collate the best-looking bags around in our list, although there are some that may disagree.
A bag is ultimately no more than the materials that it is made up of. If a bag is made with cheaper, often synthetic, materials, then it won’t hold up as well as you need it to and won’t provide you with the best value. That’s not to say synthetic materials are necessarily bad; some of the strongest materials around are synthetic. Just make sure that you know what it is you’re getting; whether your gym bag has synthetic nylon or an all-natural hemp exterior, do your homework and be sure that it’s high-quality material.
A bit of an afterthought for many, the straps of a gym bag are actually a very important factor. That’s not because it’s necessarily more important than other aspects of the bag; they’re not. However, because the straps are the part that you interact with directly when you’re carrying the bag, bad straps have a tendency to be far more annoying than a bad zipper or a small tear. In looking through negative reviews of gym bags, there is no one aspect that is more commonly griped about than uncomfortable, non-functional, or even just plain loud straps. When getting a gym bag, try looking through reviews and see what other people have thought of the straps. If there’s a lot of bad strap buzz, and you think that might cause you major annoyance, then it’s probably wise to look elsewhere.
Sturdiness vs. Flexibility
Some people will complain that a bag’s bottom isn’t sturdy enough and doesn’t do a proper job of holding up all of the stuff that is kept inside. Others have an issue if a gym bag is too rigid, and therefore doesn’t fit into a gym locker properly or is a burden to carry around. In this matter, you can’t really have it both ways; either a bag has a nice sturdy bottom and can’t be compressed very well, or you can scrunch it up real tight and fit into any space at the cost of a saggy bag bottom. Most brands will boast of one or the other; just know that you have to make a choice here and go with the type of bag that you think will be more likely to suit your needs.
Gym stuff smells bad. This is a fact. But it smells a whole lot worse when it’s cooped up inside a bag, all stuffed together in with moisture, allowing all kinds of bad bacteria to thrive and stink. Many of the best gym bags have a decent ventilation system, allowing enough air in and out of the bag to prevent a serious build-up of nasty smells. Try to get a bag that has decent ventilation, especially in the shoe compartment, if it has one. Keep in mind, though, working out is an inherently bad-smelling activity, and you’re not going to eliminate the smell entirely just by having a ventilated gym bag.
It’s not exactly a function of the bag itself, but when speaking with any consumer, it would be remiss to ignore the cost. The price of an item is a major factor in whether a person will buy it, perhaps the most important factor. We’ve tried to avoid putting any overpriced bags on our list, and any of the more expensive bags do have reasons to be more expensive. With a wide range of prices for quality bags, you should be able to find a good one to fit your budget.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What’s the best place to buy a gym bag?
A: Where you purchase your gym bag should largely depend on where you are most comfortable buying things. If you need a more tactile experience and want to feel what a bag is going to feel like over your shoulder or see in person how much space it has inside, then you should probably go to a sports goods store to buy it. However, if you’ve read this list, and you’ve already decided on one bag that sounds really attractive to you, there’s no reason why not to buy your gym bag online.
Q: How do I clean a gym bag?
A: Many gym bags that you get will be machine washable, so you can just chuck them into the washing machine to clean them out. Make sure, however, that your gym bag does say that it’s machine washable; if it’s not, you could do damage to the bag if you try to. In that case, all you really need is a wet cloth, maybe some disinfectant spray. Just wipe out the material, thoroughly washing the inside and outside, then put it out in a warm place to dry.
Q: How long do gym bags usually last?
A: Although the durability of various bags is different, pretty much any bag you get should at least last you for a few years. Some of the more sturdily built ones will last much longer than that, potentially decades. If you get a bag and it starts falling apart in the first couple of years, then you definitely have a defective product; many companies will offer warranties against that very thing.
Q: What’s the best size for a gym bag?
A: There is none. The best size is entirely dependent on what you need to use the bag for. Team sports players, people who trek in the wilderness, hardcore gym nuts, they’re all going to need a big gym bag, but if all you need to transport is a change of clothes, you can go light, saving yourself a literal weight off your shoulders, and probably some money to boot.
Q: Should I keep dirty shoes in a gym bag?
A: You can, but the best gym bags for runners are bags that have separate compartments for shoes, allowing a natural way to keep them separate from the rest of your stuff. We’ve highlighted a number of different bags who have exactly that sort of compartment, but unfortunately, it seems that many of them are unsuitable for larger shoes. If you are a bigger person, it might be best to check to see if your shoes will fit into the bag before committing yourself to purchasing one.
Q: What strap options are available for gym bags?
A: Generally, there are a few options available. The two most common are shoulder straps, which go over one shoulder to take the weight, and regularly carry straps, which you have to hold in your hand. Most bags that have one, also have the other, to allow you to carry it in different ways. Some other bags will also have a customizable backpack mode, allowing you to sling the straps of the bag over both shoulders and wear it as a backpack.
Q: Should I use a gym bag for other purposes?
A: Gym bags are extremely versatile and are only really called gym bags because they’re designed with that purpose in mind. If you want to use a gym bag as a school bag, as a travel carry-on bag, for whatever purpose you can imagine, then go for it. Just try to clean out the gym smell before bringing it on a plane with you.
Q: How much space do gym bags take up in storage?
A: The answer to this one varies based on the structure of the bag. Many more flexible bags will be able to fold up easily and get tossed in the back of a closet or bottom of a drawer. Some people will prefer a bag with a sturdier bottom, however, and those bags are a bit tougher to store inconspicuously.
Q: What’s better, zippers or Velcro?
A: Some will swear by one, some by the other. Truth is, there are advantages and disadvantages to both. Zippers can get caught easily and can be difficult to work with sweaty gym hands, but they are much more secure than Velcro. Velcro is more reliable and easy to use, but it also won’t necessarily hold all of your stuff in if the bag flips upside down or something like that.
Q: How much should a gym bag cost?
A: The price of gym bags can vary pretty widely. At the less expensive end, you’re looking at an expenditure of fewer than twenty dollars, but some of the really high-class bags can easily go for more than a hundred. Generally, sixty dollars is the top dollar amount for most good bags, and if you go much above that, you might just be paying for the brand instead of quality.